Genesis 29:14b-31 God will vindicate, but not until you have proven your righteousness
Genesis 29:14b-31 God will vindicate, but not until you have proven your righteousness
And he stayed with him a month. 15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. 18 Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” 22 Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. 23 Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. 24 Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. 25 So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 But Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.” 28 Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. 29 Laban also gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid. 30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years. 31 Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.
Jacob loved Rachel at first sight as he was drawn by her external beauty. Jacob’s obsession with Rachel served as a bait for Laban to entrap and exploit him. It is evident in the narrative that Jacob’s attitude took a turn for the good after his encounter with God at Bethel. But this welcomed change did not give him an upper hand in his dealings with Laban. Nevertheless, Jacob persevered in doing what is right and saw God’s vindication some 20 years later.
Leah, who was outshone by Rachel in various ways has since lived in the shadows of her pretty sister. At the same time, Jacob’s second-rated treatment of Leah did not stop her from doing what is right through childbearing. And God vindicated her by opening her womb and closing Rachel’s. Leah was honoured many years later as mother of Judah, the seed of the kingly line of Jesus Christ.
Today’s devotion reminds us that God will vindicate, but not until believers have proven their righteousness in the face of continual wickedness and injustice. Therefore, believers in the face of injustice must remember God’s promise and wait patiently for His vindication. We must not be overcome by evil but reign over them by continually doing what is good.
I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.
Laban’s warm words, “Because you are my relative” belies his canny temperament. He learned of Jacob’s motives for coming and noticed his fondness for Rachel which he intended to exploit. By the opening line, “should you therefore serve me for nothing?” he manoeuvred Jacob into making him an offer.
The polarised description of the sisters’ physical characteristics serves to show Jacob’s shallowness when it comes to assessing women. While Rachel was described as “beautiful of form and face”, Leah’s eyes were “weak” having no allure or sparkle. It was no surprise that shallow Jacob loved Rachel. Where Abraham’s prayerful servant weighed in on the virtues of servitude and character, Jacob went berserk at the sight of a pretty face. As it panned out, Rachel’s outward appearance did not correspond well with her inner attributes. Leah, as we will see demonstrated maturity and poise despite neglect and unjust treatment by Jacob and her sister.
Nevertheless, Laban’s immediate acceptance of the offer revealed the lavishness of the bride price that matched Jacob’s intense affection for Rachel. With this agreement, Jacob will work for Laban for seven years under subsistent conditions. And it seemed that Jacob has lost most of his distinctive shrewdness that he employed towards his sibling.
Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her
Jacob’s eagerness to consummate the marriage was evident in the manner that he pressed the cool Laban to deliver on his promise. Because all that was in Laban’s mind was to keep Jacob with him. And there is no doubt that Laban had already come up with a scheme to stall Jacob and prevent him from departing. Apparently, Laban duly went about inviting neighbours to celebrate the marriage and everything seemed to be working according to plan. The celebration was set for a week with the marriage to be consummated on the first day. However, traditions require that the bride be veiled throughout the ceremony. What followed in the late of the night and amidst much drinking gave occasion for Laban to substitute Leah for Rachel.
So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah!
It was quite a feat that the unloved Leah and the oblivious Jacob did not communicate throughout the fateful consummation. Not until morning did Jacob discover to his horror: Behold, it was Leah! Seven years of back breaking work for pretty Rachel had only gotten him (in his perception) her ugly older sister instead. The shattering of a dream, the mistaken consummation with someone he never loved, and the grave injustice had Jacob vehemently confronting Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?” Crafty Laban had intended on stalling Jacob’s return to Beersheba by using Rachel to bargain for yet another seven years of service. For Laban, it is all about his own benefit, and he had no regard for the wellbeing of his daughters or Jacob. However, in condemning Laban for being deceitful and unprincipled, Jacob was in fact condemning himself. For Jacob has found himself in exactly the same spot as Esau when he stole his blessing seven years ago.
After completing the week of celebrations, Laban gave Rachel to Jacob as wife. Even though Jacob had gotten what he desired but he has added to his name seven years of hard labour and a family riddled with strife. Unlike the first seven years that seemed like a few days, this time they were days of sorrow and feud.
Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.
At the first reading, it appears that the opening of Leah’s womb was God’s way of compensating Leah for Jacob’s neglect towards her. However, far from having her desire fulfilled, Leah’s success in bearing children had actually caused her to be excluded from the marriage bed. For jealous Rachel had dominated her husband, severely limiting Leah’s access to him (see Genesis 30:15-16). Therefore, God’s intent for opening the womb was not meant to reverse Leah’s circumstances for it would have succeeded, but for the purpose of vindication on account of her virtuous composure amidst her suffering. As the story unravels, we see Leah progressively maturing through the names she gave her children. As for Rachel, God closed her womb because she was intractably immature in being unreasoning and selfish in her demands of others, especially her husband (see Genesis 30:1). Even after God opened her womb, she remained covetous while indulging herself in idolatrous activities (see Genesis 31:32-35). And as we know it, Leah outlived her younger sister who died while giving birth to Benjamin, the youngest of the 12 sons.
God will vindicate, but not until you have proven your righteousness
Jacob was mesmerised by Rachel’s external features while being oblivious to her inner attributes. Ironically, it was unloved Leah who bore Judah, the most powerful of the 12 sons, the seed of the lineage of David, the ancestor of Jesus Christ. While Jacob loves Rachel because of her beautiful form and face, God loves Leah because of her inner virtues. But until her righteousness is fully tested, she remains in the shadows of her sister.
The natural world with its beauty appeals to the eyes of the natural man. And man in turn exalts and rewards those who appeals to his fleshly senses. However, God is not of this world but is of the spirit. And He perceives beauty and things differently from the way the world perceives them. God perceives the form of a man’s external attributes always as a correspondence of his inner attributes. Hence, an unattractive woman with a gentle and quiet spirit will appear as a beautiful woman in the eyes of God. The beauty of the natural world is deceptive for it veils what truly lies beneath (see Proverbs 31:30). The apostle Peter said, “the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4). God promotes and debases people according to the values of the spirit world, not the natural world.
Jacob, in this narrative appears to have taken a turn for the good. He was no longer that supplanter as he was seven years ago as evident by his rectitude in his dealings with Laban. Jacob also realised that his inner change did not actually grant him an upper hand. His upright approach has made him a victim instead. It is commendable that despite the wickedness of his opponent, Jacob did not revert to his former self but persisted in doing what is right. Thus, he fulfilled another 13 years of work with integrity of heart (see Genesis 31:38-41). History tells us that God vindicated him and caused him to reign over his opponent (see Genesis 31:42). But until he has proven his trust for the God of justice and righteousness, he remains a slave.
Many become dishearten when they see rampant injustice happening around them. The wicked fan out like weed showing no signs of abating. And those who do not fight evil with evil are considered weak and foolish. Those who looked to God are dismayed that He did not give them immediate justice. As a result, a great many have given up fighting opting to fold in and flow with the current. In doing so, they fall into the devil’s trap and pass up on their inheritance and reward. The psalmist encourages the faithful to wait for God’s vindication while persevering in doing what is good,
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Psalms 37:8-9
Therefore, the psalmist encourages believers to wait for the Lord. We must not fret when unethical people are constantly being heard and rewarded, and when well deserving employees are continually bypassed for promotion. But to persevere in giving our level best for the good of the whole. And in due time, we shall reap the harvest of rewards if we do not give up. The power of good will manifest itself but only after believers have proven their righteousness. Therefore, we must overcome evil not with evil, but with good. And in due time, we will see the transfer of wealth from the wicked to the righteous if we do not give up doing good (see Proverbs 13:22).
Leah, who bore many children did not fret despite being cut off from her husband. For she has learned to direct her focus towards God and to please Him in her endeavour of childbearing. History tells us that Leah is rewarded with a son: Judah who became the seed of the kingly lineage of Jesus Christ. But only after many years of persecution and unfair treatment under her jealous sister. As for Jacob, he returned to his father’s house a wealthy man and retook Canaan as the heir of Abraham’s covenant. But this did not happen until 20 years later during which he suffered unjustly under his crafty father-in-law.
What is your response towards the state of affairs in your workplace, church and family? The bible says that injustice and evil will continue to fester in all facets of life until Jesus returns. The apostle Paul teaches believers the right attitude in the face of evil and persecution,
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned … and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:12-15
- Believers must not fret, but accept the fact that the righteous will always be persecuted and the devil will continue to use his agents to marginalise the righteous.
- Believers must continue in the reading and meditation of the word and to acquire the virtues (love and goodness) of God through the Spirit.
- Believers must not act out of fear or vengeance but out of love and righteousness.
- Believers must remember God’s promises and wait patiently for His vindication.
Dear Lord, I believer that you have seen all that is happening in the world today. Sanctify my heart’s eye so that I may see as you see and know your plans of salvation. I will not fret in the face of evil but will fight evil with good. I send out the angels to thwart the schemes of evil men. Use me to further the work of your kingdom and to establish the gospel in our midst. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.